September 15, 2015

Tall, tattooed, thick-bearded Pa. mayor running for Senate

Head of steel town up against Sestak, McGinty

Politics Senate
John Fetterman Keith Srakocic/AP

John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, Pa., addresses a crowd while announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Braddock.

The 2016 Pennsylvania race for U.S. Senator figures to be a battle between party establishment, with sitting Republican Pat Toomey against either former Navy Admiral and U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak or Katie Mcginty, former Chief of Staff for Governor Tom Wolf.

Enter: John Fetterman.

Standing at 6'8" and sporting a massive goatee underneath his bald head, with tattoos lining the inside of either forearm, Fetterman has spent the last 10 years as the Democratic mayor of Braddock in Western Pennsylvania. 

Fetterman, who was spent his tenure as mayor trying to revitalize the steel town, entered the race Monday. According to  WTAE in Pittsburgh, he is aware of his unconventional appearance:

"I do not look like a typical politician," he said with a chuckle. "I don't even look like a typical person," he added as the crowd of supporters joined in his laughter.

WTAE reports that Fetterman, who likely faces an uphill battle in the Democratic primary against McGinty and Sestak, placed a huge focus on income inequality in a speech announcing his candidacy.

His attempt at entering the national political arena follows a career in which he has tried to boost the struggling economy of his hometown, which he has the zip code of tattooed on his arm

Fetterman, who has a Harvard education under his belt, has certainly taken extreme measures to try to fight for his town. In 2010, he was arrested in Pittsburgh for staging a one-man protest aimed at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, pleading that they open an urgent care center in Braddock. 

He appeared on "The Colbert Report" in 2009 and was featured in the New York Times in 2011 for his efforts in utilizing nonprofits to try to spur economic development despite opposition from the borough council, which holds most of the town's legislative power. 

John Fetterman
Braddock, Pa., Mayor John Fetterman, with the city's zip code tattooed on his arm, stands in an alley behind the main street of Braddock, Saturday, March 10, 2007. (Andrew Rush/AP Photo)

In 2013, he defied then state law barring same-sex marriages, officiating a wedding

In his race, Fetterman will have a tough hill to climb. McGinty has already employed former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to her team and Sestak has been on the campaign trail for months. 

If he pulls an upset and gets the nomination, he will face Toomey, who according to a recent Franklin & Marshall poll has a sizeable lead over the other two Democratic challengers.